The manufacturing sector is of a great importance for Europe in terms of its value creation and employment potential. Especially Asian countries have risen up to the top rank of manufacturing whereby competition is becoming tougher. To remain competitive, manufacturing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe need to reinforce their innovation capacities through the integration and usage of key enabling technologies (KETs).
Within this context, clean production processes are seen as a key part of a new industrial revolution and as a crucial competitive factor: It is expected that factories of the future will use highly energy- and material- efficient processes, employ renewable and recycled materials, and increasingly adopt sustainable business models bringing together different components of the value chain to optimize production processes.
The EU-funded project KET4CleanProduction (KET4CP) sets its strategic objectives on helping SMEs to solve their clean production challenges and - as a result - to stay sustainable, innovative and competitive. By encouraging the use of advanced manufacturing technologies and related key enabling technologies (KETs) their production processes suppose to upgrade towards a more energy- and material- efficient state.
To achieve this, the project aims to create an open innovation ecosystem with a one-stop access platform for cross-border innovation services for manufacturing SMEs through a network of superior ”KETs Technology Centres” (KET TCs) and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partners. This will be achieved by facilitating SMEs connectivity to KET TCs through joint project proposals for micro grants.
After a pilot phase with a number of such joint project proposals the plan is to scale up the network adding more KET TCs as well as EEN members. The final aim, by the year 2020, is to create a self-sustainable ecosystem gathering technology infrastructure, SME users and suppliers of innovative advanced manufacturing technologies: a one-stop-shop acting as single access point for manufacturing SMEs across Europe.